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British Church considers closing half its seminaries

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is looking at merging its four seminaries into two after it emerged only half of its training places are being taken.

A spokesman stresses any decision will be based on the best interests of the priesthood and not money, although that was an element.

Its commission on seminaries has recommends St Cuthbert's College in Ushaw, near Durham, and St Mary's College in Oscott, near Birmingham, should merge to create one seminary for the north and Midlands. St John's Seminary in Wonersh, Surrey, and Allen Hall, Chelsea should also merge to become the south of England's seminary.

The proposals were considered by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on Monday.

Priests train for six years, at a cost of up to $A209,292 each. Some 230 men are currently undergoing training.

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, the conference's general secretary, told a news conference in central London: "The numbers in the seminaries have fallen and the numbers are likely to remain at about that figure."

He said the Church wanted to study "the most appropriate way to train priests in the 21st Century". There would be ongoing discussions about the future of the seminaries

Bishops issue review of seminaries (ICN)


29 May 2002